Every once in a while someone says something or does something that totally surprises me. A few days ago I received an e-mail from a fan. She asked me what was going on with Cinnamon. For a moment I was thrown. Cinnamon is the name of a character in my book The Right Wedding Gown. The book was published in 2009 and I’ve had several books published since then.
The fan’s comment caused me to think about memorable characters. What books have I read where, to this day, I remember the characters? Discounting Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy, I didn’t need to go to my keeper shelf (or shelves, in my case) to recall people (for they are real people to me) who touched my heart, became my friends and enriched my life.
There’s Ismael in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Larry Underwood from Stephen King’s The Stand. Their moral strength of character in doing what was right in the face of opposition touched me. Ellie and Will from Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer have a love story that is profound, but it is the connection of two people society has condemned who show their true nature. I loved this book so much I wouldn’t read the last page. I didn’t want it to end. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget Henry and Keiko from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. During a time of anguish in American history they prove that love can conquer the years.
While most of us remember the four March sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Woman, I remember Laurie, the boy next door. Laurie was an idealist. He misunderstood Jo, but eventually grows to realize she was right about them. Their outlook on life was different, but in the end they were both happy. Tom Clancy has given us Jack Ryan in several books. Jack is a beta type, boy scout all the way with a sense of reasoning and a drive to make things right. This quality is also reflected by David Baldacci in the creation of the mysterious alias of Oliver Stone (not to be confused with the Hollywood director, Oliver’s words) who stalks the streets of Washington, D.C. by night anonymously fighting crime.
I’m not the only one with memorable character stories. One friend and fellow author was so enamored by the character Brandon from Kathleen Woodiwiss’s novel The Flame and the Flower that she named one of her son’s after that character. Can you guess who she is? Hint: She’s the New York Times bestselling author of the Madaris series.
Suzanne Brockmann has her own shelf of memorable characters. Prince Joe was my first Navy Seal book by her and Joe Catalanotto set the tone for me to rush to the store and buy each new one as they were released. I salivated over Lucky. He had everything; good looks, charm and a suaveness that could melt the clothes off any woman. Harvard, the tall, bald, black hero in Harvard’s Education was a man of few words, but his actions continue to speak even today.
I read After the Night by Linda Howard in 2009, yet Gray Rouillard is as real today as he was then, along with one of the best love scenes I’ve ever read. Linda managed to make the rain and mud sensual, sexy and exciting. Sandra Brown is one of my favorite authors. Two of her books come easily to mind. Tate Rutledge from Mirror Image is not hard to picture and he wins the best love scene in a car award. The entire book Envy by Sandra Brown has such vivid characters, especially Parker Evans, that they all remain with me. I could give the entire plot summary.
I also have several classics on my keeper shelf with characters I will never forget. Jay Gatsby and Daisy from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Doc, the marine biologist, from Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, even Ahab, Ismael and Queequeg from Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
We have a large collection of children’s books (all age levels) which pass from generation to generation, but one I read a few years ago is Holes by Louis Sachar. Stanley Yelnats stands out as an all time favorite. I found this book profound on several echelons. I could teach writing using it.
These are only some of my memorable characters. I could go on and on about books and the people in them. Who are some of the characters you remember?